Preliminary reports from various outlets suggest that North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un’s (KJU) health is possibly at risk following an alleged cardiovascular procedure earlier this month for which he is receiving treatment. The approximately 36-year-old dictator’s health has long been a point of speculation for observers outside North Korea’s notoriously closed society. His country is considered one of the most brutal and repressive regimes in the world.

North Korea watchers are speculating that KJU’s health has seriously declined following his rise to power in 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, who himself suffered strokes and a fatal heart attack. The dictator reportedly suffers from a number of health issues stemming from obesity, excessive smoking, and overwork. While he is considered to have almost god-like status among the brainwashed and repressed North Korean people, the government is not likely to be forthcoming regarding his actual health condition outside his immediate circle.

Given that such information would not be shared except in the event of the regime conducting a rapid transition of power, analysts have taken to following KJU’s presence at various known events in North Korea to obtain indicators as to his possible status and whereabouts.

One such possible indicator is an April 15th celebration for the birthday of KJU’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung. The celebration is reportedly the nation’s most important holiday. CNN reported that KJU was not present at the celebrations, suggesting the dictator’s declining health may have possibly played a role. However, a measure of healthy skepticism exists in policy and analysis circles, which note that among others, South Korea’s Unification Ministry and National Intelligence Service were unable to confirm the news reports of KJU’s reported health condition.